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I Had A Potato On My Windshield for 28 Days And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

I Had A Potato On My Windshield for 28 Days And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next

It fell off.
Okay, I guess you could have probably guessed.

My morning ritual involves stopping at the same coffee shop every morning and having my first cup of the day with a few friends.

We call it Coffeetime™.

We all arrive at roughly the same time and sit for an hour or so; usually it’s just three of us, but sometimes it can grow to six or more. We’ve been doing it for years, and we jokingly refer to it as our podcast—we talk about a range of topics and interests, often in depth—but we don’t actually record it.

Another group that inhabits the coffee shop is a gaggle of older, retired folks. They take up multiple tables and can number in the teens. We refer to them as “The Council of Elders.” We’re not sure we like them.

Otherwise, it’s a pretty standard Portland, Oregon coffee shop experience.

There’s dudes with beards ordering single origin shots, ladies with Yoga mats ordering lattes, a giant stroller or two blocking the table where the half-and-half is, and talented baristas who pour hearts and swirls and other art in foam.

We come in and we drink our coffees. We talk about the previous days events and catch each other up on what our kids have done or what shows we’ve watched the previous night.

Most days at the coffeeshop are uneventful.

Then There Was A Potato

My friend Brad arrived later than the rest of us one day, and on his walk to the coffee shop he found a potato on the ground.

He’s not sure where it came from or how it got there. But there it was.

Something inside him made him pick it up and put it on my windshield.

I mean, this is Portland. Putting a potato on a windshield seems like the right thing to do. And my windshield? Well, it just felt right to Brad.

I got in the car without noticing it was there.

As I started pulling out of my space, I noticed it. But, laziness (and just the one cup of coffee so far) prevailed and I left it there.

I figured it’d fall back to earth when I got up to speed.

But it didn’t.

It just stayed there.

So, I did what any sane person in our #hashtag and @instagram culture would do — I took a picture of it every day.

And for almost a month, my potato went with me everywhere. From home, to the coffeeshop, to work, to lunch, back to work, running errands, and finally returning home.

It went downtown. It went to the airport. It went to Target.

It went and got a delicious dinners with me; chicken at Pollo Norte and a couple of slices at Pizza Jerk. Anywhere my little blue electric Golf went, it was there, sitting on the windshield.

It wasn’t wedged in there, either. It had a range of motion.

Taking my wife to the airport at 6am in the pouring rain, the little potato rolled across, nearly getting off — only to be caught at the last minute by one of the wipers. Bang! Bang! Bang! The wipers did not like the potato.

Friends started getting into the act.

I came home to find a potato with googly eyes on my stoop, and I opened my mail to find a sticky note with a potato illustration.

#patspotato was getting more love than I was, but I didn’t mind.

My life, all of a sudden, had a little more excitement.

Where would I take a picture of Potato at today?
Would he fall off?
Was he going to sprout?
Would someone steal him?
How long could I keep this up?

Maybe it sounds sad, but my life had a new sense of purpose (sure, a very small sense of purpose, but still). It was great.

But then it happened, as I knew it someday might.

There’s a tight curve and a small hill near my office on Mississippi Ave.

I was driving back to work from lunch on a road I’d driven on several times with the potato, when something about the wind, or my speed, or the way the light hit the windshield that particular day combined to make the inevitable happen.

I saw him slow roll past me on the windshield, and then he took the leap.

I looked in the rear view mirror to see him bounce a couple times and then roll of into the sunset.

Goodbye, friend. You’ll be missed at coffee.

A bunch of essays, photos and thoughts by Pat Castaldo.